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You can’t run out of things to do in Griffith Park. And Griffith Park attractions offer something that most places in Los Angeles don’t — free parking! Whether you want a ticketed experience (such as a trip to the Zoo or Autry Museum) or a more casual, make-it-up-as-you-go-experience, you can do it all in Griffith Park. And depending on your family’s sport of choice, Griffith Park is an ideal place to golf (several courses), bike ride, and hike. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and a soccer ball (or football, softball, or kite).
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Hike to the Hollywood Sign
If you’ve got family visiting from out-of-town, a hike to see the famous Hollywood Sign may be in order. One available route starts at the Griffith Observatory, another route (longer and more steep) is closer to the Greek Theatre. Make sure to wear appropriate shoes and sunscreen and have water with you. Full directions are available on the website.
The Autry National Center
4700 Western Heritage Way (directly across from the L.A. Zoo), Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Autry celebrates the history, art, and culture of the American West. Families will walk through a number of exhibits that help us get a sense of how things have changed (and remained the same) over the years.The Autry is considered to be the only museum of its kind that combines Western history and cultures with Native American perspectives. The Autry also offers a number of family-friendly activities, including guided scavenger hunts throughout the museum, panning for “gold,” and sitting on top of a mock-up of a horse and pretending to ride along in a western film! There is a cafe on site as well. (Note — The Autry is closed most Mondays). Admission is $10 for adults, students with ID are $6, and children 3-12 are $4. (AAA members do receive a 10% discount on adult admission prices).
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027
On 133 acres, you’ll find more than 1,000 mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles at the L.A. Zoo! Among some of the exhibits you’ll explore, you’ll find the new Rainforest of the Americas, the Elephants of Asia habitat, the Campo Gorilla Reserve, the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles), the Sea Life Cliffs, and more. There’s also the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo. Families may bring their own picnics or purchase food from several spots throughout the Zoo. The Zoo is open each day except Christmas from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Adult tickets are $20, Children 2-12 are $15, and children under two are free. Parking is free.
Travel Town Museum Foundation
5200 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA
Not far from the Zoo, you’ll find Travel Town — perfect for those who love trains! Learn about railroad history in Los Angeles, walk among a variety of railroad passenger car, and take a ride on a miniature train (tickets for rides are $2.75 each). On the 2nd Saturday of each month, docent-guided tours are offered as well. Admission and parking are free.
Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round
4730 Crystal Springs Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90027
This historic carousel is generally open on weekends throughout the year, and weekdays during summer, winter, and spring breaks from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. The merry-go-round has been in Griffith Park since 1937 and includes 68 horses. There’s also a Stinson 165 Military Band Organ, which may be the largest band organ used to accompany a merry-go-round on the west coast. Rides cost $2 each, and be forewarned — the speed may be a bit too fast for young ones.
Griffith Park Pony Rides
4400 Crystal Springs Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90027
Let the kids channel their inner cowboy and cowgirl at the Griffith Park Pony Rides (in business since 1948). For $3 a ride (2 laps around), children can choose from slow, medium, or fast ponies. (Age and weight restrictions apply). There is a also a wagon ride that the whole family can enjoy. (Note — only cash is accepted, and the pony rides are closed most Mondays). And for an added bonus, located adjacent to the ponies, you’ll find a miniature train ride as well.
Griffith Park Horse Rentals
Los Angeles Equestrian Center
480 W. Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91506
If the kids are ready for a more independent riding experience, the family may enjoy a trail ride. (Riders must be at least 6 yeas old and 4 feet tall). All rides are led by experienced personnel. All levels of riders are welcome. Information on times can be found online. (The basic rate is $25 per hour).
2800 E. Observatory Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Griffith Observatory brings the wonder of outer space in a family-friendly, accessible way. There are telescopes and a multitude of exhibits that will keep the kids (and parents) engaged, curious, and in awe. And on clear days, you’ll enjoy great views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign! There is a cafe on site as well. (Outside food and drinks are not permitted inside the Observatory). Admission to the Observatory, and parking, are free. Although there is a fee for shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.
The Trails Cafe
2333 Fern Dell Dr., Los Angeles, CA
The go-to place locals stop at before/during/after time spent in Griffith Park. You’ll find picnic-style seating where you can enjoy muffins, scones, quiche, sandwiches, and beverages. Vegetarian and vegan options are available as well.
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